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Zakaria Amara’s (Toronto 18) Open letter to Canadians & Muslims, Pleads Guilty

Posted by on Jan 15th, 2010 and filed under Community, Photo. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

AGENCIES

Zakaria Amara (Toronto 18) pleads guilty

Zakaria Amara (Toronto 18) pleads guilty

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Zakaria Amara, 24, the convicted mastermind behind the Toronto 18 terrorist plot to set off bombs in downtown Toronto and at an Ontario military base, wrote a letter to Canadians that he read at his sentencing hearing Thursday. A

“Open letter to fellow Canadians:

I hope my words reach you while you are in good health and fine spirits.

I am certain that many, if not all of you, will never forgive me for my actions.

I have no excuses or explanations. I deserve nothing less than your complete and absolute contempt.

I only wrote these words to simply let you know of how regretful and sorry I feel. All I can hope for is that you are alive and well when perhaps that day comes when I demonstrate my regret in actions rather than words.

As for the Muslims amongst you, I have an additional comment to make. I can not imagine the type of embaresment (sic) or anxiety you must have gone through in the days following my arrest. I am sure many of you received unwelcome attention and felt hopeless in trying to explain that the actions of a few were not endorsed by the community. I am sure many of you probably cursed at me in your heads.

To you too I say that the gravity of the damage I caused to you makes any excuse or apology inappropriate.

I can only hope that when all of you, Muslim and none (sic) Muslim, wittness (sic) the type of man I will one day make out of myself and the type of activities I’ll be involved in, than (sic) you will perhaps contemplate accepting me once more into the fold.”

“I will change myself around, from a man of destruction to a man of construction,” said Zakaria Amara, the linchpin of the so-called Toronto 18 homegrown terror cell, while addressing a Brampton court at his sentencing hearing Thursday. He is to be sentenced Monday.

The former Ryerson University student pleaded guilty to participating in the activity of a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion that was likely to cause serious bodily harm, death or damage to property.

The Crown is seeking a sentence of life in prison, while the defence wants a sentence in the range of 18 to 20 years. Under either scenario, Amara would be eligible for parole in about six years, but a life sentence would subject him to some kind of supervision for the rest of his life.

“What he planned to do can’t be understated; he planned mass murder,” said Crown prosecutor Iona Jaffe. “You don’t set out to detonate three one-tonne bombs without knowing that a lot of people are going to be killed.

“The fact that Zakaria Amara did not make his indelible mark of devastation on this country is due to one thing: police intervention.”

The 24-year-old Mississauga man told Justice Bruce Durno he had “no excuses or explanations” for his actions, adding he had been led “down the path of extremism” and “locked in an ideological position,” which he now recognizes to be wrong.

“I deserve nothing less than your complete and absolute contempt,” said Amara, addressing his “fellow Canadians” from the prisoner box.

“I am sure many of you received unwelcome attention and felt hopeless in trying to explain that the actions of a few were not endorsed by the community,” said Amara, as his mother and sister looked on. “To you, too, I say that the gravity of the damage I caused you makes any excuse or apology inappropriate.”

Amara said that during the three years spent in isolation following his arrest, there was “no one to help me shed light on the shadows and blind spots that my ideology thrived in.”

But that changed after he was allowed to mix with other inmates who challenged his convictions, he said. “It was an enlightening experience,” Amara said, adding he befriended people such as Jews and Shia Muslims with whom he had never interacted before.

One of the greatest influences, he said, was an inmate who had worked on Bay Street and whose brothers worked in the Exchange Tower, one of Amara’s intended targets.

The thought that this inmate, who had given Amara friendship and guidance, could have been a victim of his plot made him reconsider his position, he said.

Amara broke down in tears as a letter from his wife, Nada Farooq, asking for leniency, was read by defence lawyer Michael Lacy.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Amara recruited people, helped lead a terrorist training camp, created remote-controlled detonators and bought three tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer for truck bombs.

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